If you are in Indiana, you are never more than an hour from a fantastic state park. The parks feature opportunities for picnics, hiking, biking, skiing, camping, off roading, archery, historical demonstrations, boating, fishing, swimming, hunting, and nearly any other outdoor activity you can imagine. Come by yourself or bring your whole family - Indiana has something for everyone!
The Indiana Parks app includes these awesome state parks:
Brookville LakeAccess to the lake is available through Mounds State Recreation Area. Plenty of entertainment to be had on the lake and beach.
Brown CountyIncluded within the park boundaries are two lakes: Ogle Lake at 17 acres (0.069 km2) in size, and Strahl Lake covering 7 acres (0.028 km2). There are 70 miles (110 km) of bridle trails and 20 miles (32 km) of hiking trails. Hiking trails range from easy to rugged terrain and 0.5 to 3 miles in length. The third highest point in Indiana, Weed Patch Hill, is located within the confines of the park, which is sometimes referred to as the "Little Smokies" because of frequent low lying fogs in the forested valleys of the park. The park has multiple campgrounds, RV sites, and a horseman's camp.
The peak visitation is in the fall during the leaf-changing season. A significant portion of the park's annual visitors come during this time. The park affords a number of vistas that overlook miles of wide swaths of deciduous forest that display a large array of colors in the fall.
Brown County was the site of the biking events at the 1987 Pan American Games. The Brown County area is known as one of the best mountain biking locations in the Midwest.
Animals common in the park include white-tailed deer, raccoon, eastern gray squirrel and chipmunk. Birds in the park include robin, white-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, cardinal, junco, crow and wild turkey.
Cagles Mill Lake (Lieber SRA)Mill Creek flows into from the north and drains out through to the Eel River to its south, which then makes its way to the White River. Indiana State Road 42 once went through where Cataract Lake is now and currently has a new, entirely different route on the upper area from its original route. Also located on the lake are the state's largest waterfalls, the Cataract Falls, and the Cagles Mill Dam to its north. Also a main attraction to tourists on the lake is a bald eagle's nest, where the birds return every season.
Cecil M. Harden Lake (Raccoon SRA)Plenty of water and land activities make this lake a fantastic vacation spot. Fish, swim, play horseshoes, and stop in to visit the Mansfield Roller Mill.
Chain O' LakesAs the name suggests, it is a park for boaters, with eight connecting lakes, and eleven lakes total. The lakes are kettle lakes, formed by receding ice sheets of the Pleistocene Epoch, which also made the steeply rolling hills and bogs of the park. Bowen Lake is the deepest at 65 feet (20 m), and the shallowest is Dock Lake at 2 feet (1 m) deep. Outwash sediments, sediment from Canada, and muck/peat filled bogs caused by the glaciers are accessible by the several miles of hiking trails. Power boats on the lakes are restricted to electric motors only.
There are more than 10 miles of hiking trails. Cross-country skiing is available in the winter. There is one large campground as well as a Rally campground, a Youth Tent Area and a canoe camp. There are also 18 furnished cabins available for rental. There is one swimming area in the park.
CharlestownIt was once part of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (INAAP), and was donated in separate parcels to the Indiana state government. In 1993, the state of Indiana was given 859 acres (3.48 km2) , and in 1994 was given an additional 1,125 acres (4.55 km2) . When the park opened in 1996, it encompassed 2,400 acres (9.7 km2). With an additional 2,600 acres (10.5 km2) given by the INAAP in 2004, the park has 5,100 acres (20.6 km2), making it the third largest state park in Indiana. The park attracts 131,000 people a year.
Clifty FallsThe park features Clifty Creek, Little Clifty Creek, and a canyon in which the sun only shines during midday.
It has many beautiful nature trails, especially those that go near Clifty Falls. The Clifty Inn is available for overnight guests, and the park contains a campground with sites for RV and tent campers.
Falls of the OhioThe park is part of the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area. The main feature of the park is the exposed fossil beds of the Jeffersonville Limestone dated from the Devonian period.
The park includes an interpretive center open to the public, built on the grounds where Camp Joe Holt once existed. In 1990 the Indiana state government hired Terry Chase, a well-established exhibit developer, to design the center's displays. Building started in September 1992, costing $4.9 million with a total area of 16,000 sq ft (1,500 m2). The center functions as a museum with exhibits that concentrate on the natural history related to findings in the nearby fossil beds as well as the human history of the Louisville area, covering pre-settlement, early settlement, and Louisville and southern Indiana history all the way up through the 20th century.
Unlike at other Indiana state parks, annual entrance permits do not allow unlimited free access (rather, only five people per pass per visit) to the interpretive center, as fees are still needed to reimburse the town of Clarksville for building the center.
The Woodland Loop Trail has ten new stainless steel markers denoting the plant life of the trails, thanks to an Eagle Scout project.
Strange wildlife has a habit of showing up in the park. Living alligators and crocodiles have also been seen in the park. In August 2006 a fisherman hooked a dead octopus. Zachary Treitz, a 21-year-old Louisville college student, admitted he had put the octopus there after purchasing it dead from a local seafood shop for a film project.
Fort HarrisonFort Harrison, sometimes called Fort Ben, is an Indiana state park located in Lawrence, Indiana, and occupies part of the former site of Fort Benjamin Harrison. The park features a former Citizen's Military Training Camp, Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and World War II prisoner of war camp. There are also picnicking and walking/jogging trails.
Unlike most state parks in Indiana, it is a day-use park, with its only overnight facilities being the inn, The Fort Golf Resort, which was the old officers' club. The fort's eighteen-hole golf course makes the park popular with Indianapolis golfers; it was redesigned by Pete Dye after the forts closure, making it a 72-par course. Only golfers are allowed on the course. The VIP housing became the Harrison House Suites, and the four Officer's Homes are available for overnight lodging as well. There are three hiking trails, and one for horseback riding, with horse rentals available. One of the hiking trails, Harrison Trace Trail, is paved, making it available for bikers and in-line skating. The wildflowers take the place of the ravines and steep hillsides typical of state parks in southern Indiana. Bike and fishing are also available; the park office sells the necessary state fishing permit. In winter, ice fishing is available. An interpretive center at the park office is available to inform visitors of the parks considerable history and natural beauty.
Fall Creek runs for 3.5 miles (5.6 km) inside the park, with smaller tributaries feeding it which are also within the boundaries of the park. Beaver, deer, frogs, squirrels, and turtles are the most commonly seen critters in the park; an heron pond is off-limits for visitors.
Hardy LakeHardy Lake, originally named Quick Creek Reservoir, is an Indiana state reservoir in Scott and Jefferson counties, Indiana. It is located four miles (6 km) east of Austin, Indiana and 35 miles (56 km) north of Louisville, Kentucky. It is the smallest reservoir maintained by the state of Indiana, measuring 2,448 acres (9.9 km2) of total property, and 741 acres (3.0 km2) of surface area for the lake. The lake is approximately 38 feet (12 m) deep.
Hardy Lake is surrounded by other state and federal properties. Fifteen miles to the north is the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, 12 miles to the northeast is Crosley Fish and Wildlife Area; 15 miles to the east is Clifty Falls State Park; 20 miles to the south is Clark State Forest; and 20 miles to the west is Starve Hollow S.R.A.
Other features of the park include the McClain Cemetery, which dates back to the 18th century, a mound of Allegheny mound ants, foxfire, and a trail exclusively designed to test one's archery skills. Seasonal fishing and hunting are permitted within the park. The park contains a large population of fish that includes bluegill, catfish, black crappie, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and tiger muskie. Animals available to hunt not only include the typical deer and turkey, but quail, snipe, and woodchuck as well. The lake is open to boating and fishing and has four public access ramps. The park is also home several species of birds including the Red-necked Grebe, Mute Swan, Snow Goose, and Black Vulture. Red-shouldered Hawks are particularly noteworthy and nest around the lake in early spring through mid-summer.
The state's Division of Parks and Reservoirs maintains both primitive and modern camping sites in the park surrounding the lake. The park also includes a public swimming beach, bathhouses, and hiking trails making it a popular camping location. The Hardy Lake Sweep occurs annually at the lake when members of 4-H, the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA camp in the park for a weekend of work to clear the park's roads and shoreline of any litter.
HarmonieHarmonie has many hiking trails and includes sheltered areas, a seasonal nature center with interpretive programs, a pool, and many other features.
Indiana DunesThe park is bounded by Lake Michigan to the northwest, and is surrounded in the east, south and west by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a unit of the National Park Service. The 1,530 acres Dunes Nature Preserve makes up the bulk of eastern part of the park, and includes most of the park’s hiking trails and dune landscape.
The beaches were formed by winds coming off Lake Michigan, which drop sand when the wind hits plants, dunes, and hills. As the lake level of Lake Michigan dropped at the end of the Ice Age, the shoreline receded, and new dunes were formed along the lakeshore. Vegetation took over the previous dunes, and eventually forests grew on top of them. There are "blowouts" along the dunes, where dead stumps were revealed after the wind blew away the sand from on top of them; the most notable such blowout is Big Blowout.
Blowouts are formed by the on-shore winds of Lake Michigan. The winds move sand and pile it into dunes. As the dunes form, plants begin to take hold, stabilizing the sand. Beach grasses form a large underground system of roots. This root system, creates stable areas of sand, from which the dune can grow. Slowly other plants take root in the protected areas, including bearberry (kinnikinnick) and small evergreens. Over time, larger plants like sumac, sand cherry, cottonwood, and juniper take hold and replace the grasses and smaller plants.
When a nick forms in this armor of roots and plants, the area can become a blowout. First, open sand becomes accessible to the wind. This can be by animal trails or by human footpaths. A tree could fall in a strong wind, exposing the underlying sand. When this happens, the wind once again goes to work on the loose sand. It undercuts the other roots, and begins moving sand southward. If the winds are strong enough or given enough time, a large blowout can occur, reducing the dunes to lake level over a large area. The 3 largest blowouts in the park are Beach House, Furnessville, and Big Blowout. Each extends into the interdunes, between the front rides of dunes and pockets, into the interdunal troughs. Big Blowout has uncovered an area of dead tree trunks known as the Tree Graveyard.
J. Edward Roush Lake (Huntington Lake)Bring your r/c toys to use in the dedicated flying field. Plenty of water and land activities, as well as camping, make this lake a fun vacation spot.
LincolnMany of the recreational facilities found within the park were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The park was originally established as a memorial to Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, whose gravesite is now contained within the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. The family of Abraham Lincoln lived in Spencer County for 14 years from 1816 to 1830. Lincoln State Park contains numerous sites significant to this period.
The Sarah Lincoln-Grigsby Gravesite and Little Pigeon Baptist Church
Within the park's boundaries is the gravesite of Abraham Lincoln's sister, Sarah Lincoln-Grigsby, located in a small cemetery next to the Little Pigeon Baptist Church. Thomas Lincoln was a trustee of the Primitive Baptist church. Thomas and Abraham Lincoln helped to construct the original church and the family occasionally attended services there. The current structure is part of the state park and contains a cornerstone from the original church. A congregation no longer worships there.
The Noah Gordon Mill Site
Also within the park are the Noah Gordon home and mill sites. Noah Gordon was a neighbor of the Lincoln family and maintained a small grain mill. Abraham Lincoln spent many hours waiting his turn to mill grain here. Young Abraham Lincoln is said to have been "killed for a while" when he was kicked in the head by his horse milling grain at Gordon's mill.
The James Gentry Home Site
Young Abraham Lincoln worked for James Gentry at his general store. The home site of James Gentry is located within Lincoln State Park off of trail 3. Abraham Lincoln took a flatboat trip to New Orleans, leaving from Rockport, to sell goods for Gentry. It was on this trip to New Orleans that Lincoln first witnessed slavery.
The Col. William Jones Home
The park also includes the restored Col. William Jones Home near Gentryville. Col. Jones was a merchant, farmer, politician, and Union Colonel during the American Civil War. The home was built around 1834 and the farm contained a general store where Abraham Lincoln was also employed. Born in Vincennes in 1803, Jones settled in Spencer County in 1828. Jones and his wife, Rachel, raised five sons on this farm. The home is open for tours, including a restored log barn. The home is located 1/4 mile west of Gentryville on Boone Street.
Within Lincoln State Park is the Lincoln Amphitheatre. The amphitheatre is a state-of-the-art covered outdoor theatre that was constructed in 1987 and began producting "Young Abe Lincoln" that year. After being closed in 2005, "LINCOLN: Upon The Altar of Freedom" premiered in June 2009 for the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. The play returned for a second year in June 2010 and introduced the new "Concert in the Park" which features cast members singing some of the most popular songs and hymns during Lincoln's life following each nightly performance. "LINCOLN" will be back for a third season in 2011.
Seasonal programs are offered at the Lincoln Interpretive Center, the park's nature center, which also features natural history exhibits.
McCormick's CreekThe heart of the park is McCormick's Creek Canyon. The upper levels of the canyon are around 700 feet (210 m) above sea levels, dropping to the West Fork of the White River which is near 540 feet (160 m).
McCormick's Creek waterfalls is a primary attraction. Indiana has few waterfalls due to the relatively flat topography, therefore, even a small falls, about 10 feet (3.0 m), is of interest.
Mississinewa LakeSeveral land and water activities available, including a remote control flying field, volleyball, hiking, waterskiing, boating, and much more. Come camp near the lake and enjoy all this beautiful area has to share!
Monroe LakeThe lake is the largest in Indiana with 10,750 acres (44 km2) of water spread over the counties of Monroe and Brown. It is also home to 13,202 acres (53 km2) of protected forest and three recreational areas (Fairfax, Hardin Ridge, and Paynetown). Indiana's only federally protected U.S. Wilderness Area, the 13,000-acre (53 km2) Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, is located on the south shore. The pool elevation (above sea level) is about 538 ft (164 m) year-round. During colder winters, limited ice fishing is available on protected backwater portions of the reservoir. Lake Monroe was the last lake in Indiana to allow concussion fishing until a ban was passed in 1985.
Rock musician John Mellencamp is a native of the area, and resides on the shore of the lake. The largest marina situated on the lake is the Fourwinds Resort and Marina with over 800 boats. The reservoir provides abundant fishing throughout the year, and recreational opportunities such as boating and water skiing attract visitors from throughout Indiana and the Midwest.
MoundsMounds State Park is a state park in Anderson, Indiana, featuring prehistoric Native American heritage, and 10 ceremonial mounds built by the Adena people and apparently also used by later Hopewell inhabitants. The largest earthwork, the "Great Mound", is believed to have been constructed around 160 B.C. The Great Mound is a circular earth enclosure with an internal ditch and south to southwest entrance. The earthworks measure 394 feet (120 m) across from bank to bank. The 9-foot-tall (2.7 m) embankment is 63 feet (19 m) wide at its base, and the ditch is 10.5 feet (3.2 m) deep and 60 feet (18 m) across at its top. The central platform is 138 feet (42 m) across and was occupied by a 4-foot-high (1.2 m) central mound 30 feet (9.1 m) in diameter. In 1900, a series of strange misshapen skeletons were unearthed from Mounds in nearby Alexandria, Indiana. There was speculation that the skeletons were possibly the missing link or possibly even the remains of extra terrestrial visitors. This brought thousands of tourists from around the Mid-West. In 1910, several locals admitted to stealing chimpanzee skeletons from the nearby Muncie Zoo's monkey house. In 1915 the skeletons were sold to a local museum which burned down in 1919. Canoeing is also available on the White River.
O'Bannon WoodsO'Bannon Woods was originally known as the Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area, which was part of the Harrison-Crawford State Forest. Its main attraction is Wyandotte Caves, which contains over fifty miles of underground caverns and one of the world's largest underground "mountains". The Blue River runs through the park. Indiana DNR lists it as one of their "Seven Hidden Jewels".
The park was named for former governor Frank O'Bannon and houses the O'Bannon Woods Interpretive Center, which offers exhibits and nature programs year round.
OuabacheOuabache (pronounced "Wabash", though the name is, of course, the French term from which "Wabash" was derived) is a state park in Indiana. It is located 30 miles (48 km) south of Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was originally the Wells County State Forest and Game Preserve, formed in the early 1930s. In 1962 it became the Ouabache State Recreation Area, before finally achieving state park status in 1983.
The name comes from the French Jesuit spelling for Wabash, as the Wabash River runs through the park. The park provides fishing and nature viewing. A 100-foot (30 m) fire tower offers an excellent view of the park.
Until the 1960s, when the practice was stopped, it was the greatest producer of chicks of pheasants and quails in the United States, making it known as the "Greatest Wildlife Laboratory in the U.S.". Some of the old pens can still be seen.
Patoka LakePatoka Lake is the second largest reservoir in Indiana and is spread across Dubois, Crawford, and Orange counties in southern Indiana.
Created as a joint effort between the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the lake is one of eight such reservoirs built in the state to provide a secure water supply and as a method of flood control. The lake consists of 8,800 acres (36 km2) of water in the summer. The lake was created by damming the Patoka River. The dam is located about 118.3 miles (190 km) above the mouth of the Patoka River. The lake is fed by several smaller tributaries including Allen Creek, Paint Creek, and Ritter Creek. After the lake was created several parks and nature preserves were established around it totaling 16,920 acres (68.5 km2). The lake and dam is still managed by a cooperative management team of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Patoka Lake is a great place for photography, as it is inhabited by migrating birds, a large variety of fish and beautiful lake shores. The lake has been heavily stocked with bass, bluegill, catfish, redear, crappie, and walleye. Once a year the Lake association hosts GarDaze, an event bringing in avid fisherman from around the world, including fishing celebrities like Babe Winkleman and Bill Dance. Other activities available include Archery Range, Boating with 9 Launch Ramps, Cross-country skiing, Fishing and Ice Fishing, Disc Golf Course, Hiking and Biking Trails, Hunting by permit, Interpretive and Recreational Programs, Star Parties, Picnicking with Shelterhouses, Swimming, and Waterskiing. The lake also hosts a large campground with over 500 camping sites.
Patoka Lake has been very beneficial to the surrounding community and the State of Indiana. The lake has generated over $19.4 million in revenue and visitor expenditures in 2005 and has so far prevented over $88 million in flood damage. In 2006 the lake saw 648,738 visitors who provide jobs for 197 local residents.
PokagonThe park is bordered by Lake James on the west and south and Snow Lake on the north. Various wetlands can be seen throughout the park and the Potawatomi Nature Preserve makes up a large portion of its east side. Over ten miles (16 km) of hiking trails wind through the park.
The Wisconsin Glacier, the last of the Ice Age’s four glaciers that covered Indiana, is responsible for the rolling terrain found in Pokagon. Glaciation’s influence can be seen in many of the features of the park, including Lake Londiaw (a kettle lake), Hell's Point (a kame), and various glacial erratics.
The toboggan run is a popular destination during the winter. Visitors can reach speeds of 35-40 miles an hour (60 km/h) on the quarter mile (400 m) long track.
Potato CreekPotato Creek State Park is located in north central Indiana about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of South Bend. The park features a wide array of activities and facilities for year-round enjoyment.
A variety of natural habitats await the visitor to this park including the 327 acre (1.3 km2) Worster Lake, old fields, mature woodlands, restored prairies and diverse wetlands. Each of these offer their own unique opportunities for plant and wildlife observations.
ProphetstownProphetstown State Park is located near the town of Battle Ground, Indiana, about a mile east of the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe, and near the site of the Indian village of the same name. Established in 2004, it is Indiana’s newest state park. The park is home to the Museum at Prophetstown, which recreates a Native American village and a 1920s-era farm.
Redbird State Riding AreaMiles of trails for off-road vehicles and riders of all skill levels. Contact the park to verify hours before arriving. Vehicles must be licensed.
Salamonie LakeWater and land activities make the lake a great place for your next family reunion or vacation. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and stay the night to make the most of your stay.
ShadesShades State Park is a state park in Montgomery, Parke, and Fountain Counties in Indiana. It is located 47 miles (76 km) west-northwest of Indianapolis, Indiana. In the last decades of the 19th century, the area was a resort with a forty-room inn. In the 1930s a man named Joseph Frisz acquired the land in order to protect it, and purchased more land around. His heirs sold the land in 1947 to the holding company "Save the Shades", who in turn gave the land to the state to create Indiana's 15th state park.
Originally, the area was known as the "Shades of Death". There is debate as to why it got that name. Some say it was due to the way the trees cast their shadow on the ground below, making it look like a black forest. Others say it was because of a settler's death, although sources disagree if the settler in question died due to Indian attacks, or was killed by an angry, axe-wielding wife.
Steep sandstone cliffs within the park were formed when Indiana was covered by an ocean hundreds of millions of years ago. Fossils can be found on the nearby sandbars.
Sugar Creek, which runs through the park, is too unsafe for swimming, but canoeing is available. Sugar Creek also runs through Turkey Run State Park which is nearby. The two parks share similar features including steep ravines, slate and sandstone valleys, and small waterfalls.
Indiana State Road 234 winds through the park, though not signed as such. It has much lower speed limits than a State highway normally would, due to its narrow width in some places and hairpin turns in others.
Shades is also notable for having a small airfield called Roscoe Turner Flight Strip, where visitors can land their plane and then visit the park. It is 1,000 yards long and 120 feet (37 m) wide. No other state park has this feature. Indiana DNR never went out of its way to promote the strip. The airfield is closed. No information as to when, if ever, it will reopen is available.
Located in the eastern end of the state park, the Pine Hills Nature Preserve protects the deep canyons formed by Indian Creek before it enters Sugar Creek. The primary feature in the preserve is the Devils Backbone a stone ridge barely wide enough for the trail to cross.
ShakamakShakamak's main attraction is its excellent fishing. Shakamak has several outdoor recreational activities such as swimming, hiking, paddle boating, row boating, camping, fishing, and horseback riding. The park offers rentals for cabins and campsites and is located just 3 miles (4.8 km) from Jasonville, Indiana.
Spring MillThe park is located on the Mitchell Karst Plain, which allowed the park's caves and sinkholes to form in the limestone. The caves include Bronson Cave, Twin Caves, Shawnee Cave (Donaldson Cave), Hahmer Cave, and others. A boat tour of Twin Caves is run by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which travels about 500 feet (150 m) into the cave.
A portion of the park is virgin timber, protected in the Donaldson Woods Nature Preserve. The Mitchell Karst Plain Nature Preserve is notable for its large number of sinkholes, more than 1000 per square mile. Many of the park's features were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, including the Spring Mill Inn, Spring Mill Lake, and most of the trails.
A settler village can also be found in a valley in the park, featuring a historic watermill and nineteen other structures. A stream runs through the village, which is fed by a spring in Hamer Cave and powers the watermill. Heritage interpreters demonstrate crafts and skills from the 1760s. The Hamer Cemetery is located south of the village and the graves of many area residents from the late-18th century are found there, as well as some modern graves. The area, 295 acres (1.19 km2) total, was purchased for the state park from a cement company for a single dollar. The village reached its peak in the late-18th century, but became virtually abandoned by the mid-1850s. Steam power allowed watermills to be erected anywhere. Restoration of the village was spearheaded by Richard Lieber and E.Y. Guernsey (employed by Indiana's Department of Conservation) in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Also of interest is a memorial to native resident of Mitchell, Gus Grissom, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, who died in the Apollo 1 accident. The memorial features the spacecraft from Grissom's Gemini 3 space flight, nicknamed the "Molly Brown" (after the play The Unsinkable Molly Brown) by Grissom, as well as a short video about the life of Grissom, and artifacts such as a space suit, helmet, and many personal effects.
A Nature Center is open from spring through fall and features live snakes, a bird-watching window, natural history displays, and a children's area. During the winter, a small Nature Nook is available instead at the Spring Mill Inn.
The campground features 188 Class A campsites which include 30 amp electric service, a fire ring, and a picnic table for each site. Thirty-five primitive campsites and youth camping are also available. Four "comfort stations" are located in the campground, which include modern plumbing, restrooms and showers. A camp store is accessible from both inside and outside the campground.
Summit LakeThe park is a mix of woodlands, old fields, wetlands, and prairie restoration areas which provide a wide range of flora and fauna. More than 100 species of birds reside in the park, and the area is popular among photographers and bird watchers. Hiking trails offer good views of the lake. Zeigler Woods Nature Preserve, at the southwest corner of the park, is Henry County's only dedicated nature preserve.
Tippecanoe RiverNoted for a grove of old-growth white pine trees, the park also preserves more than 2 miles (3 km) of undisturbed wetland shoreline on the Tippecanoe River. It was formed when in 1943 the National Park Service gave to Indiana's Department of Conservation land to form a state park, with other land along the river becoming the Winamac Fish and Wildlife Area.
Canoeing is very popular in the park, as the Tippecanoe River stretches seven miles (11 km) along the park's borders. A canoe-exclusive campsite has ten sites. It is also a River Otter Release area. Bluegill and bass are commonly fished from the river. The river is too dangerous for swimming, so those camping in the park can go to the Bass Lake State Beach five miles (8 km) away.
There are ten miles (16 km) of hiking trails and thirteen miles (20 km) of horseback trails. Bicycle rentals, cultural arts programs, and naturalists are also available. Most visitors drive to the park, although pilots can land at the nearby Arens Airport and have a courtesy car take them to the park.
Turkey RunTurkey Run State Park is located in Parke County, Indiana, in the west-central part of the state on State Road 47 two miles (3 km) east of U.S. 41. It was Indiana's second state park, with the first parcel of land being purchased in 1916 at the cost of $40,200 when the State Park system was first established on the Indiana state centennial. It hosts the Turkey Run Inn, built in 1919. The origin of the name "Turkey Run" is unknown but the most accepted theory is that wild turkeys would congregate in the gorges (or "runs") for warmth where early settlers in the area would trap them in dead end gorges and hunt them with ease.
Turkey Run State Park is located about 10 miles southwest of Shades State Park. Both parks are located along Sugar Creek, and both feature the gorge system formed by the drainage of the creek as it cuts down through sandstone bedrock. Mansfield sandstone is the specific type seen at Turkey Run, named after Mansfield, Indiana. This makes the two parks all the more interesting, since travel to them crosses a flat glacial till plain, and suddenly the traveler enters the gorge system.
A system of trails offers hikers plenty of outing opportunities during the summer months when the drainage is relatively free of water, and the suspension footbridge across Sugar Creek, the main drainage for both parks, provides access to trails on the far side. Trail 3 is particularly noted for its ruggedness, including ladders and narrow but deep gorges. Floating down Sugar Creek through the park in either inner tubes, canoes, or kayaks is very popular in the summer months. You can pick 3-mile (4.8 km), 8-mile (13 km) or even 11-15 mile trips down Sugar Creek. Also, in the spring when heavy rains and snow melt flood the narrow gorges, many more adventurous hikers will go "creek stomping" through the narrow gorges. However, the fast moving current, steep gorge walls, and unpredictable contours of the creek beds make this activity dangerous if the water level is high.
The major features of the park are formed from erosion in Mansfield sandstone from the Mansfield formation. This formation was deposited during the Carboniferous period at the mouth of the ancient where sediments collected and compacted. This swampy environment formed many coal deposits which were mined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collapsed entrance to a coal mine is still a major feature of the park.
During the Pleistocene Epoch the Mansfield sandstone bedrock was carved into the current distinct formations by glacial meltwaters and their associated erosion. Turkey Run features many common features of glaciation, including glacial erratics, till, and scoured canyons from erosion by melting glacial waters.
The Rocky Hollow Nature Preserve is a series of canyons cut into the sandstone. Rocky Hollow is the longest and Falls Canyon has the only existing waterfall (seasonal) in the park. There are six designated trails through the preserve, each with its own unique micro-climate. Depending on the season, these trails may be impassible or muddy, or refreshing on a hot afternoon.
Rocky Hollow begins at 680 feet (210 m) above sea level on the northeast border of the park (County Road 280E) and drops to 540 feet (160 m) at Sugar Creek just above the swinging bridge. Boars Hollow and Falls Canyon drop a similar distance but in half to a third (respectively) of the length.
Every Memorial Day Weekend, Turkey Run State Park plays host to Serb Fest. The annual celebration of Serbian food and culture originated in the mid 1970's by a group of Serbian families from the Chicago area. Through the 1980s, the event grew to as many as 20 families. The weekend's events focus on large amounts of meat blazing about the grills of Turkey Run (TR), hiking, and a slow float down Sugar Creek. In 1988, due to the massive popularity of Turkey Run State Park on Memorial Day Weekend, attendees began reserving rooms at Turkey Run Inn two years in advance. Grilling activities are usually situated around grills and picnic tables adjacent to the Tennis Courts.
The event has seen continued evolution. Beginning in 1996, a new generation of attendees were groomed to keep the tradition alive as many of the original attendees grew older and unable to commit to attendance each year. This new generation has opened up the celebration of the Serbian culture to individuals of all backgrounds and ethnicities. While many of the attendees are not Serbian, still lives is the celebration of the Serbian culture - primarily through cuisine and the ever present Serbian Flag which can typically be found attached to a nearby light pole by an old tree branch and duct tape.
There are two sites within the park which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The first was the Lusk Home and Mill Site. The initial area for Turkey Run developed around this home.
The second Turkey Run locale on the National Register is the Lieber Log Cabin. It was built in 1848 from the native tulip trees, the oldest of its kind in Indiana. It is named in honor of Colonel Richard Lieber, the first director of the Indiana State Parks system and the man who instigated Indiana's creation of its park system. During a thunderstorm in 1918 he discovered the house. He liked it immediately, and convinced the owner to have it moved three miles (5 km) so it could serve as the administration building for the state park. All but the chimney was salvageable. Fortunately, an elderly man familiar with the chimney's "cat and clay" style gave directions for making a new one, using stone from an old bridge. The supports were originally of butternut, but are now of sassafras. The cabin is now used as a museum honoring Lieber and the entire Indiana state park system. Lieber died in 1944 and his ashes were buried within the park.
VersaillesVersailles (pronounced locally as ver-SAYLES) is an Indiana state park, near the town of Versailles, Indiana. The land was given by the National Park Service for use as a state park to Indiana's Department of Conservation in 1943.
In the early 20th century, the area was farmland. In the 1930s, the National Park Service acquired the land, and hired the CCC to improve the land into a Recreational Demonstration Area. The 230-acre (0.93 km2) Versailles Lake was formed in 1954 when a dam was built across Laughery Creek.
It is a recreation area, featuring fishing and boating on Versailles Lake and Laughery Creek. A covered bridge, the Busching covered bridge, crosses the creek. This Howe truss bridge was constructed in 1885, is 176 feet (54 m) long, and although within the state park, Ripley county owns it. A group camp, originally constructed by the CCC, is available for use as well. Swimming isn't allowed in Versailles Lake, but a 25 meter pool is available.
Whitewater MemorialWhitewater Memorial is the sixteenth state park in Indiana. It is located 47 miles (76 km) west-southwest of Dayton, Ohio. At 23,000 acres (93 km2), it is the third-largest state park in Indiana; its seventeen miles (27 km) stretching between Brookville, Indiana, and Liberty, Indiana, paralleled by Indiana State Road 101.
The park was established as a memorial to those American soldiers who lost their lives in World War II. Four counties gave up part of their land so that the state of Indiana could create such a memorial state park: Fayette, Franklin, Union, and Wayne.
Part of the facilities available to visitors to Whitewater Memorial State Park include Brookville Reservoir. Brookville Reservoir was created as an artificial lake by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1974, spanning 5,260 acres (21 km2). The dam which enables the lake is 181 feet (55 m) high and 2,800 feet (850 m) long. Whitewater Lake itself is 200 acres (0.81 km2).
Popular recreation options in the state park include houseboats, five hiking trails, a nine-mile (14 km) horse trail, and lake swimming. Bass, bluegill, and other small fish are the attractions for fishermen. An archery range is available by the reservoir. Hayrides are also occasionally offered.
Hunters are attracted to the deer, rabbits, and raccoons. Non-hunted wildlife are woodpeckers and owls.
Within the state park is the Hornbeam Nature Preserve, which features the rare hornbeam trees. It is 37 acres (150,000 m2) in area, and was established in 1974.
Whitewater Memorial State Park hosted the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall from September 4-8, 2008. It was placed at the beach's southern edge where it's grassy. Surviving veterans of the four counties were specifically honored.